Saturday, April 9, 2016

Hong Kong 7s: Eagles Frustrated By South Africa

The Eagles will play for the Plate after losing to South Africa 28-0 in the Cup quarterfinals at the Hong Kong 7s. The Blitzbokke were simply too much for the Eagles as they used a combination of the rainy conditions and a tight defense to frustrate the Eagles throughout the 14 minutes. Mike Friday and company will have to be disappointed by the result but once again it's a lesson learned ahead of Rio. They will next play Wales at 3:00 a.m. et/12:00 a.m. pt in the Plate semi-finals. 

The signs were there that the Eagles were in for a tough match when Garrett Bender was called for a penalty seconds after the restart. Anytime you give South Africa possession they are going to make you pay. While they didn't immediately score they did put the Eagles back in their own end so when Perry Baker wildly threw the ball trying to save it from going into touch South Africa could easily pounce for the opening try. 

Take the jump to read more. Sloppy play not entirely caused by the wet conditions didn't help the Eagles cause. Too many times they looked stagnant on offense and were caught trying to play deep out of their own end. Once again that meant that when South Africa created a turnover they turned it into their second try. 

It wasn't all bad for the U.S. as they did have opportunities, including a grubber kick from Martin Iosefo that was destined for Perry Baker only seconds before the end of the half. However, fitting of the game the ball took a weird bounce at the final moment leading Baker to overrun the ball. 

Needing to pick up the first score in the second half the U.S. were once again caught deep. Credit goes to the South African defense for pressuring the U.S. all match and it was that pressure that led to an intercept try to put South Africa up 21-0. The U.S. would push for a try but instead it was South Africa that scored at the death to make the final 28-0. 

Overall, it was a very frustrating match for the Eagles. They had a difficult time breaking past the defense and the conditions took away some of what they wanted to do. They will have the opportunity to rebound next against Wales. 

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